The 26th was another sunny warm day and this was the day we would finally hit the south west coast of Madagascar. We were staying at french run “resort” The Residence Eden Lodge which was supposed to be about 45 minutes south of Tulear and here we go again with our Google Maps and Maps.me navigation systems. Up to this point the road was very good and we made good time. As we approached Tulear our navigation buddies suggested we hang a left of of the RN7 and take the gravel road which would lead almost directly to our accommodation. The road had a few signs, none of which mentioned our lodge, they never do so we stopped off of the side of the road and contemplated our next move. Right near the junction there just happened to be a police road stop, which are many when travelling through the country, so we figured we would ask one of the policemen. None of them spoke english, surprise surprise! We showed them our destination on our maps, we showed them the actual village name and address from an email from our ipad, they comicerated and came back to tell us that no, this road you want to take is tres mal, you must go 500 metres and then turn left. Okay, glad we asked and proceed to travel 500 metres, 1 km, 1.5 kms, curse and swear and then turn around and go back to the police stop. This time there is another fellow, maybe undercover because he didn’t have the usual gendarmerie uniform on and he adamantly insisted that we do not take the route our maps suggest. He said drive 5 kms, not 500 metres (even though the first cop typed in 500 on my iPad to be clear he meant 500 metres), and then turn left and you will eventually find your hotel and, he was absolutely correct. Our Maps.me did show this new road eventually leading to our lodge but to be honest, we stopped several times to ask if we were indeed on the right path and indeed we were.
The last stretch of the road to our lodge was a little sketchy and at one point we drove probably about 1 km along a very narrow road with a cliff on one side and a “you are dead if you go off the edge” drop off on the other side. It kind of reminded us of the Facebook videos that have circulated of some of the mountain side “roads” in the Himalayas but not quite as harrowing fortunately becaused Joyce would have walked right there and then. Most of the road was okay in relative terms so aside for the direction mess up we made it to the lodge in probably 1 hour to cover 30 kms.
The lodge was really quite nice and we had a very large bungalow with living area, outdoor tanning beds and a view of the turquoise waters of the Mozambique channel.
The owners also had a penchant for pets, probably 8 cats and several dogs who acted as if they had never eaten a meal in their life when we would try to enjoy our dinner, breakfast or lunch. They were a big pain in the ass and to top it off, the morning of our departure while eating the standard bread, butter and jam breakfast with a cold “omelette” thrown in to justify the cost, the local pet lemur decided to stop by and steal our banana bread.
We were supposed to meet our Pisteur at the lodge at 9:00 am and finally at 10:00 we received a phone call to inform us his taxi broke down on the way to meet us. Surprise surprise! A little ticked because every hour of travel time is very valuable, we departed the lodge with a 10% discount due to no hot water, hey, it’s an ecolodge afterall excuse, and made our way back along the gravel and rocks to meet up with Antonio, our guide for the next 6 days of off road 4×4 adventure.